There have been many adaptations of the play Othello by William Shakespeare, both on stage and on screen. What was unique about the play at the time it was written is that it featured a non-white main character. Although the term Moor is ambiguous as it could refer either to a Muslim or a black man, Othello was meant to represent “the other” in the play.

In the earlier stage performances, Othello was played by a white actor using “blackface”. This practice went on even on screen in the twentieth century, when famous white actors such as Laurence Olivier and Anthony Hopkins played the part. In some cases, actors even alternated the roles of Othello and Iago to keep the audience more engaged.

The first performance of Othello by a black man was in...

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